Divers have recovered the body of the last missing victim of the deadly Labor Day fire aboard the dive boat Conception off the Southern California coast. Thirty-four people died when they were trapped below deck after a fire that broke out in the early morning hours blocked their exits. Five crew members, who were above deck, survived.
The accident has prompted discussion about changes that may be needed in the design of these vessels.
A total of 33 passengers and six crew members were aboard Conception on its final excursion. A crew member told KTLA that they had done a night dive and that he had checked the galley to make sure the stove was cool and all flammable materials were stowed before going to bed. Less than an hour later the boat was engulfed in flames.
The 33 passengers and one crew member who slept in the bunkroom were trapped below deck as fire and thick smoke blocked all exits. Those who perished included multiple groups of family members including a birthday celebration for Michael Quitasol, his wife, Fernisa Sison, and his three daughters Angela, Nicole and Evan Quitasol; and Kendra Chan and her father Scott Chan, a physics teacher at American High School. Also lost that morning were Charles McIlvain of Culver City; Kristy Finstad, a marine biologist who operated a Santa Cruz dive business, Neal Baltz and Patricia Beitzinger of Phoenix and crew member Allie Kurtz, 26.
Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman lead Pritzker Hageman Explosion and Fire Team which represents clients nationwide who have been seriously injured and families who have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one. To request a free consultation call 1 (888) 377-8900 (toll-free), send a text to 612-261-0856, or by complete the form below. The consultation is free and there is no obligation.